20 October, 2020

Verge Of A Thriller

An absorbing tale full of unpredictability, wit, bewitchment and empathy.

Verge Of A Thriller
Norman Mailer once said that sometimes an author’s identity becomes so "pressing" that one is prompted to gauge one’s own "specific density" in the social world. And the most elegant solution to that, he said, was to write a novel with an emphasis on the self. Whether Bharati Mukherjee’s Desirable Daughters is the fruit of such a process is open to speculation. But her novel stays connected to a high-voltage line of irony, disallowing the narrator (who resembles the author in more ways than one) to take herself too seriously, while balancing deftly between earnestness and self-ridicule. If you haven’t already guessed it, the book is written in first person.

It is the story of three Bengali Brahmin girls from a westernised yet deeply traditional family from Calcutta. Marriage has separated the sisters, installing them in three different cities, two in the US and one in India, with mutually conflicting lifestyles. Family annals (of which there’s plenty) alone could have filled the book. But if you can plod through the 20-odd pages of the uncharacteristically...



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